Unlike building IKEA furniture, increasing consumer engagement in the furniture industry doesn’t have to end in tears. In 2018, the revenue for worldwide furniture and appliance eCommerce sat at $258 billion. Subsequently, by 2022, it is projected to grow to $394 billion.
What are some of the key trends that are influencing the industry at the moment? Let’s take a look at some of them and see how brands are embracing these trends. Brands are now using innovation to increase customer engagement. Most importantly, with no complicated assembly required.
Augmented Reality in the Furniture Industry
To begin, Augmented Reality (AR) has become a powerful marketing tool for many brands to enhance their brand image and engage their target audiences. Big brands such as Tesco, Cadbury and Kate Spade have all used AR in different ways to surprise and delight consumers. However, in the furniture industry, no one has embraced AR like IKEA.
IKEA understands how difficult it must be for some customers to imagine how a piece of flat-pack furniture would fit into their homes. Especially without having to buy, transport and assemble the piece to find out. This common dilemma lead the leaders at IKEA to develop and launch the IKEA Place app in September 2017.
The app utilises your mobile camera to help you visualise how any IKEA product would look in your home. Users can choose from a variety of products ranging from RIKTIG ÖGLA to FYRKANTIG (literally translating to ‘those Swedes!’). They will appear in camera view on their smartphone. As the user moves towards or around the piece of furniture they will see how it appears true to scale. Moreover, it’s possible to rotate and move the furniture around without having to lift a finger. You can digitally move your couch before your inner Ross Geller has the chance to yell, ‘Pivot!’
In addition, the IKEA Place app also includes a feature called Visual Search, which allows users to point their phone camera at any piece of furniture and, if it’s in the IKEA inventory, it will display pricing and availability details. Moreover, this feature doesn’t just work for IKEA products. Users can use the Visual Search to find IKEA pieces that most closely resemble the item. This could help influence users to purchase an unexpected piece from IKEA instead of a competitor.
Seeing lifelike versions of IKEA products in their personal space allows shoppers to make a ‘reliable buying’ decision, says the leader of digital transformation at IKEA, Michael Valdsgaard. ‘Most people postpone a purchase of a new sofa because they’re not comfortable making the decision if they aren’t sure the colour is going to match,’ Valdsgaard said in interview. With today’s ecommerce emphasis on convenience, these AR innovations from IKEA are changing and defining the future of the furniture industry.
Click & Collect
The role of physical retailers is changing rapidly to accommodate the growth of eCommerce. The recent growth in online sales has caused many stores to shift their primary functions in order to provide a more experience oriented retail service.
In the furniture industry, this has resulted in many brands embracing Click & Collect service points. Dusan Rnic, VP for Oracle Retail UK & Ireland confirms ‘Retailers must now consider the store’s role as a service center, as a collection point, as a showroom and as a place for customers to hang out.’
Many brands have embraced the new role physical stores are playing in the customer’s purchasing journey. By offering Buy Online Pick Up In Store (BOPUS), this allows consumers to avoid shipping costs, to make a visit to a brick and mortar store on their own time and to even potentially pick up additional items during their visit.
IKEA have even opened several smaller stores solely with Click & Collect customers in mind. These stores are generally located in smaller towns that do not have easy access to the larger IKEA stores. By providing BOPUS to more isolated areas, IKEA is branching out to a larger customer base and creating brand loyalty.
Influencers have taken the social media world by storm. By now, you’ve most likely seen the impact of influencer marketing in your own social media feed. Through targeted digital influencer campaigns, companies can reach many followers and experience authentic engagement. Influencer content can drive conversations in their specialised field, such as beauty, fashion and even home design.
In 2017, an overwhelming 92% of marketers who engaged in influencer marketing reported it as effective or successful. One of those brands, Leesa, was extremely successful in engaging followers and increasing conversion. In just 8 months, the startup mattress company grew to an impressive $45 million company. One of the driving factors in this marketing success was the use of targeted social media influencers.
Leesa took the time to find their target demographics. They were looking for women with an interest in interior design that would be open to trying their product. Then, Leesa went even further and identified bloggers with high levels of engagement and followers.
Emily Henderson is an HGTV reality show winner, blogger and Target home decor ambassador. Leesa collaborated with Henderson with a blog post and a very popular ‘unboxing’ video. All this was part of a marketing campaign that focused on building trust with Henderson’s already established online community.
Throughout the campaign, Leesa evaluated their influencer marketing success with clicks and conversations. The program resulted in 100,000 clicks to the company website and directly converted to more than 400 mattress sales. Thus making a collaboration with Henderson, and other influencers like her, a viable and smart online marketing move for Leesa.
Many furniture brands used to rely on the distribution of iconic large physical catalogues. These catalogues were meant to entice potential customers to make a visit to their stores. This model has changed in recent years, as many brands have have moved towards online content marketing to draw consumers’ attention to their product offerings. Safavieh and IKEA are excellent examples of this.
Safavieh uses Channelsight’s Where To Buy solution on their website to create a frictionless online experience for consumers. When an online shopper clicks the ‘Buy Now’ button they are brought to a selection of retailers that carry the product. After selecting their preferred retailer they are able to conveniently and quickly complete their transaction without distractions. Moreover, there is an additional feature of ‘See This Rug In My Room’ which has models of the product in various settings. As a result, this helps shoppers envision the product in their own space before purchasing it.
In addition to their primary eCommerce store, Safavieh utilises a microsite to inspire potential customers. Using the Houzz platform, the brand has designed several unique rooms featuring Safavieh products to help consumers envision how Safavieh products can transform and elevate their own space. Consumers can conveniently browse the feature products, save them for later and even purchase items on Houzz.
IKEA’s yearly print catalogue has been an iconic part of the brand for years. In recent years, IKEA has modernised their catalogue by making the ideas and inspiration available online with a built in app with exclusive app only content. This brings the content to consumers who may not have been able to pass by IKEA to collect a catalogue in the past.
Similarly, an IKEA content marketing effort that aligns with the move to digital content is their Home Tour Series. This is a series of videos which are available on both the company’s YouTube channel and on its own standalone website. Meanwhile in its fourth edition, the Home Tour Series allows real people to apply to have a squad of IKEA experts to visit their home and makeover their trickiest spaces with IKEA products and solutions. Not only does this format of the series mirror that of other popular shows, such as Queer Eye, but it also provides genuinely useful tips and tricks to elevate any space.
In short, as Jonathan from the Fab Five says, ‘You’re strong, you’re a Kelly Clarkson song, you got this.’ Brands like Safavieh and IKEA want to take the fear out of your home furnishings purchase journey. By implementing key trends these brands are able to win the eCommerce game and continue to innovate what’s new in the furniture industry.
In an industry that seems as immovable as Ross Geller’s couch, several furniture brands have found clever ways to grab shoppers attention and keep them coming back for more. It’s all about utilising the technology and innovation that we have at our fingertips and being fearless enough to implement them into your own brand.
In summary, all of these trends are all contributing to the shift in the furniture industry. It only makes sense that the worldwide furniture and appliance eCommerce is projected to grow to $394 billion by 2022.
Check out our on-demand webinar: ‘Renovate Your eCommerce Presence Today’, which gives insights into how leading brands in the Home Industry are planning their eCommerce strategy to capture this huge growth and explore opportunities available in this digitally-native world.
Are you wondering how you can do the same for your business? Contact a member of our team today for a demo of our Where To Buy technology. You will see how digital trends can increase conversion by up to 20% and increase your basket size by 30%.